Sorry, Walmart–looks like you’re the only discount retailer the Big Apple doesn’t want to play nice with. Just this past Monday, Manhattan’s first Aldi opened it’s doors at 9 a.m. sharp to a strong but not insane crowd of eager shoppers.
The store is a standard for Aldi, encompassing 20,000 sq. ft. and boasting 1,400 SKUs of their most popular products, approximately 99 percent of which are private label. The Special Buys promotional section is the only place shoppers will find any national brand name products, along with non-grocery items. Other features of the store include coolers around the perimeter, center displays in the heart of store, and the ability to rent out shopping carts.
While this was technically Aldi’s fifth store in the area (the other locations are in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island), this is the first in the city proper–a significant change because it has the potential to be more of a test for the retailer’s format.
The new location is prime for the chain, as it is currently housed in a large shopping center on East 116th St. overlooking the East River in Harlem. The grocery store is sharing the digs with Target, PetSmart, Marshall’s and Costco. Despite the other big names residing so close, Aldi’s biggest nearby competition comes from the high-traffic supermarket Pathmark at 125th & Lexington and an array of local bodegas. Considering Aldi’s famous discounted prices, it certainly stands a good chance against its competitors.
The slow growth of a discount retailer like Aldi in one of America’s most prominent cities–if not the most prominent city–goes to show that in order to appeal to shoppers, and to the powers that be, it’s all about savvy shopper marketing, as well as honing a cohesive brand identity.